While Foursquare and Gowalla offer interesting ways to meet up with your friends, there are now location based services that help you meet candidates for romance. I took a look at three of these apps to understand how they work.
Skout was the easiest app to use of the ones I reviewed. You simply enter basic profile information like your name, birthday, height, gender, interest (men or women), and ethnicity. There is also a free text field labeled “About” on the profile screen that allows you to type whatever you want. You can even connect to Facebook and use pictures you’ve posted to your profile on Skout. Once you complete the simple profile, you press the “Find Flirts” icon which opens a screen of Skout users who are near your location. You’ll immediately see their profile pictures listed in order of proximity (i.e., people at the top of the screen are closer to you than ones at the bottom). A green dot in the upper left hand corner of the pictures indicates that the person is currently online. If you click on a person’s picture, you’ll see additional pictures of them and can see their interests, height, and ethnicity. You’ll also see how far they are from you in miles. You can send a message to individual people, and I tried reaching out to several Skout users to ask them about the service. I didn’t receive any responses, but his may be because, as a happily married man, I was clear that I was only testing the application for Black Web 2.0. I suppose that isn’t a pickup line that works well with the ladies.
While Skout was very easy to use, StreetSpark was incredibly tedious. Like Skout, you can include a picture of yourself, but you also have to fill out a long profile that includes attributes like “StreetName”, gender, status (single, in a relationship, or in an open relationship), date of birth, age to display, personality, height, hair color, eye color, body type, tattoos, piercings, culture, “The Little Things”, number of children, if you drink, if you smoke, if you use drugs, country of origin, sports, music, and languages. You then have to do the same thing for “Your Perfect Match”. While this undoubtedly provided a more detailed view of myself than Skout, I never got a match in the “SparkBox” view which lists matches between me and compatible StreetSpark users. Again, this may be due to setting my status to “in a relationship”, but even when I changed that to “single”, I received no matches.
My favorite app of this group was Meet-me. Meet-me is not billed as strictly a dating application and presents itself as an application for general networking. You fill out a simple profile that includes your name, age, and a picture, and the application will show a map with pins marking the location of other Meet-me users. The app also sends an alert when someone with common interests in nearby. However, Meet-me does crash often which sharply reduces its usefulness.
Obviously, displaying your location to strangers raises the question of safety. However, no one identified by this app was closer than one mile away so I never felt that I was in danger. If someone becomes abusive, then you can easily ignore them or block them. As location based services continue to grow in popularity, I believe we’ll see more location based dating apps (especially for college students). If someone combines the simplicity and stability of Skout with the user interface of Meet-me, I believe that will result in a killer dating app.Category: Apps | Tags: foursquare, gowalla, location, location based services, Meet-me, Skout, StreetSpark